Indianapolis still hopeful of 2009 F1 race

2008 Indianapolis Motor Speedway Moto GP circuit

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is still sending out positive signals about its desire to hold a 2009 United States Grand Prix.

The circuit owners have made a point of stating that the Moto GP race held for the first time this year is not a replacement for F1 (it’s behind held in September, not June), and that the revised track (above) is suitable for F1 cars.

The new track is similar to what was predicted here just over a year ago.

The direction has been reversed (and so is now anti-clockwise, as the oval is when it is used), the banked corner replaced with a new section which also requires a change to the pit exit, and the horrible double hairpin replaced with a revised bend (see ‘ten worst chicanes’ for more on that…)

I hope F1 does come back to America in 2009 but although I’m glad to see the double hairpin go I’m not sure about the new first corner. I liked that the old configuration used at least one bend of the mighty speedway and the long flat-out section made for good overtaking opportunities into the original first turn.

But if this what it takes to get a United States Grand Prix back then so be it. Here’s hoping they find a sponsor.

More debate: Where should the United States Grand prix be held?

Thanks to Scott Newton for the tip.

2009 F1 season

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51 comments on Indianapolis still hopeful of 2009 F1 race

  1. theRoswellite said on 11th April 2008, 15:30

    Hey, I got it…………

    We get Honda or Toyota to build a large track, within an hours drive east of LA.  They can use it for "testing" most of the time.

     It can be sculpted to use huge mounds of earth as "natural" seating…creating some of the amphitheater effects seen, to a lesser extent, on the PGA tour.  It would be able to handle huge crowds, look relatively appealing when not in use, and be able to host, among other things, the USGP on a world class track.
    And, I agree with Peter Boyle, we need some length…..say, at least 14 miles, with the longest strait in anyones memory.

    On a more realistic note…..Keith is right, America is known (unfortunately) for its ovals.  One real oval race a year in F1 would be VERY interesting, read different.  Let Indy be what it is, the cars can handle it, and the drivers can certainly handle it.  The only real question is………can we, the F1 fans, handle it.

  2. Scootin159 said on 11th April 2008, 16:49

    The oval would definitely be fun in a gimmicky kind of way… unfortunately I don’t see it ever happening.  There’s just too many safety concerns (much higher speeds – will wings break, will tires hold up, will monocoupes handle crashes), budget concerns (although essentially Monza’s setup… on steroids), and ego concerns (that’s for them there NASCAR folks).

    The Manhattan race would be great (just imagine the sound echoing off the buildings)… but the track would likely be a dull combination of 90* bends.  Ever look at a road map of Manhattan?  It’s a perfect grid (except Broadway – maybe we can have a few non 90* turns, but not many).  GT4 tried a Manhattan course, but even for being pretty creative, it’s still mostly 90* bends – no real fast corners.  That’s not even to mention the budgetary and logistical challenges.

    Vegas – been done, sucked, won’t be back.

    Laguna Seca – a viable option, but would need major upgrades.  Also not as ‘great’ as people have made it out to be.  While it’s a great ‘drivers’ course (lots of high speed bends + the corkscrew), it’s nearly impossible to overtake on.

    Watkins Glen – perfect option.  Why?  it’s only an hour from me & I get to race on it quite a bit.  Ok, maybe I’m biased.  Seriously though… it’s a great track to drive (the ‘chute’ has more elevation change than the corkscrew @ laguna seca), and has good overtaking spots.  Just needs some safety upgrades, but it has been holding major events for a LONG time, so it’s not far off.

  3. Peter Boyle said on 11th April 2008, 16:50

    Thanks for the link Keith – as well as the new lap record
    for Laguna Seca, it coincidentally had the top article
    on a Heidfeld attempt on Nurburgring!

    Know how it turned out?

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 11th April 2008, 16:54

    I’m afraid he wasn’t really pushing, Peter – here’s the video: Nick Heidfeld on the Nurburgring Nordschleife

  5. Eric M. said on 11th April 2008, 17:46

    As for Indy, I’m not to keen on that new layout. If they’re not going to incorporate at least one of the banked turns, why race at Indy at all? All they really need to do is fix that stupid double hairpin and the course should be fine. If anything they should include more of the oval, not less.

  6. Rabi said on 11th April 2008, 19:37

    Actually having thought about this a little more I came up with two more tracks that haven’t even entered discussion. I will be honest and say now that I don’t know the reasons why they cannot be used as F1 tracks. They are Sebring and Watkins Glen International

  7. Scootin159 said on 11th April 2008, 20:00

    The main "issues" with WGI is that:
    1) Safety – this is the main reason they left initially.  I’m kinda stuck actually thinking of any specific reasons which still exist today, but I’m sure there will be a few.
    2) The course – it’s probably got too much elevation change for F1 (WAY more than is allowed ‘by the book’, but not too much for safety in my opinion.  It’s also probably a little narrow in spots (although still much wider than Monaco.
    3) Location – It’s actually quite remote.  Nearest ‘city’ with a ‘hotel’ (singular) is about 45-60 minutes away.  Note… that’s Horseheads… if you want a
    decent sized city with an international airport, you’re looking to Syracuse, more than 2 hours away.  Also figure that the ‘town’ of Watkins Glen contains approximately 2 roads in & out – traffic is unbearable for NASCAR weekend, for an F1 race it would be impossible.
    4) Location (x2) – Maybe traffic won’t be a problem as there’s no major city’s with ‘fans’ to draw from.  I guess you could say NYC is ‘close’, but is 6+ hours ‘close’?
    5) $$$ – always an issue in F1.  WGI went bankrupt in the late 80’s, and is now currently financed by a glass museum, not exactly ‘high rollers’.

  8. I really think there should be a US GP these days certainly but I don’t like the Indianapolis track – it’s just like the Le Mans Bugatti in that’s it’s a mickey-mouse loop in a great venue.(BTW I think they certainly should make F1 cars race round the Circuit De La Sarthe , on the full Mulsanne Straight at that – just make qualifying a bit longer).

    This layout barely improves matters – we really need a high-speed and low-downforce layout for a bit of variety , and where better for that than Indianapolis.No , I don’t want the cars turning left all the time either :)

  9. Peter Boyle said on 11th April 2008, 22:53

    I’ve been thinking about this since I left work.

    Champ car beats and F1 car round Laguna Seca, which
    is no oval. F1 no longer seems the pinnacle of technology
    I thought. Have the regulations hamstrung F1 performance
    that much?

  10. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 11th April 2008, 23:00

    Not quite – I think it was a 2007 spec Champ Car versus a 2004 or 2005 spec F1 car. Zonta would have been using Bridgestone’s ‘demonstration’ tyres which are rock-solid and nothing like as grippy as their race tyres.

    And perhaps most importantly, the times weren’t set on the same day. Bourdais presumably did his time when the track was heavily rubbered in. Zonta was at some kind of festival/demonstration thing, so there might have been all kinds of rubbish on the track. To say nothing of differences in climactic conditions.

    However, F1 cars certainly aren’t getting quicker year-on-year at the rate they used to, and it’s entirely because of the regulations as you suspect.

  11. Watkins Glen- Great course, absolutely in the middle of no where. Two roads in and out. We went to the Bud at the Glen NASCAR race several years ago, it took 3 hours to exit the parking lot, and another 2 to reach an interstate. Not to mention spartan paddock facilities.

    If there were an F1 race at The Glen would I go? In a heartbeat! Will it ever come back as an F1 venue? Unlikely.

  12. Rick DeNatale said on 12th April 2008, 20:03

    I’d love to see a USGP back at the Glen, even though I no longer live anywhere near.

    It’s got nearly three times as much tradition of hosting F1 with 20 USGPs held there, Indy and Long Beach are next with 8 each,  then Detroit with 7.  Other big cities haven’t worked out very well Vegas only had 2, Dallas and Phoenix one each.

    The Glen is a great venue for spectators once you get there.

    The thing which did it in was definitely the remoteness, and lack of deluxe accommodations for the F1 jet set.

    Some of the Glen traditions, such as "The Bog" are more questionable.

  13. John Chester said on 15th April 2008, 7:54

    Hi, all. Seems the presence of turns 12-14 several years back might have meant a full grid instead of six cars participating. However, this is in NO WAY intended to absolve Michelin of blame. The tire was a safety hazard. Michelin’s teams paid the peanlty and did not race. I’m a Ferrari fan!

    As far as where should the USGP be held, let me first say I am an American fan of F1 and attended four of the races at Indianapolis.

    I was not enamored of the circuit — a high-speed section and a slow infield section. Also, no elevation changes. Not much of a challenge for the drivers although the high- and slow-speed sections makes setting up the car a bit of a pain. Nothing resembling a signature corner.

    Having the USGP in Indianapolis is better than having a USGP in the parking lot of a Las Vegas Casino or on a street circuit in Detroit.  But unfortuantely, I don’t think the location I’m seeking exists now. It would have to be built.

    I’d be able to live with the USGP taking place at Indianapolis until a new location was ready to come on line. I’d like the race to take place on a road course that is akin to a F1 circuit in Europe, Asia or South America. And I’d like the race to take place in a city that has a more international feel or one that also is a vacation destination.
    In the cities I’ll mention, seems that a road or street course would have to be built there.

    A city with an international feel would be New Orleans. Hosting a F1 race would bring in $ that hopefully could somewhat ease the hardship still being endured by some following Hurricane Katrina.

    The two cities that are tourist destinations would be Miami and San Diego. 

    Indianapolis is a nice city. Don’t get me wrong. As I said earlier, I’ve been to four races there. But it just doesn’t seem to me to be an appropriate F1 venue.  The lone North American venue that now host a F1 race — Montreal — does have an international feel, I think.

    The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has history. But it doesn’t have F1 HISTORY like a Spa-Francorchamps or a Monza.

    I don’t think upgrading an existing road course such as Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen or Road America to F1 specs is the way to go. Also, these tracks are a bit remote in terms of major airports, kinda like wonderful — NOT — Magny-Cours.

    I’d love to see the USGP return, but only to Indianapolis until a more suitable location was ready. However, due to the fact that F1 is not at the top of the auto racing food chain in the United States, such a location may never be built.

    In nations where F1 is at the top of the food chain, no problem getting a new track built. These nations include Malaysia, Bahrain, Turkey, etc.

    But if a day arrived when Hermann Tilke was to scope out a new circuit in the United States, I’d be very happy.

    Just one man’s opinion. Would love to hear what others think.

    Best regards.

    John Chester
    Trenton, NJ USA

  14. Gman said on 15th April 2008, 17:01


    Great to see another F1 fan in the Mid-Atlantic region on here! You make some very good points about the layout at Indy and it’s shortfalls compared to some of the other spots on the schedule. I’ve yet to attend my first GP, so I can’t offer much for discussion, but i’d also love to see a true F1-spec track with those features exist some somewhere here in the US.

    Unfortunetly, finding someone to put up the money for that would not be easy. Even if funding came online right now, you’re looking at a few years at least to build the track. While Indy may not be the top choice, I believe it is the best option for getting the USGP back on the schedule as soon as possible. If all of us in the states want to see F1 back here, it needs to come back soon, given all the news GPs popping up in new places.

    Thanks for the commentary, and hopefully i’ll see you and many of the bunch from this site at Indy in the near future!

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